Whether you’re planning something for corporate partners, associates, customers or employees – having a plan of action is the key to success. To help you kick start things, here’s our ultimate party planning checklist and top tips to follow.
The theme of your party acts like a glue that holds everything together. It’s what all other elements are built upon and can make menus, dress codes, decor and entertainment much easier to plan.
To come up with a theme, you’ll first need to understand what the objective behind the party is. Is it a holiday-based celebration? Will it be an awards ceremony? Are you planning something that’s formal or something more relaxed?
As an example, if you’re planning a work party to celebrate Christmas – you could theme it as a winter wonderland. If it’s to celebrate people’s achievements, a Hollywood red carpet theme could work well.
Once you have set your mind on a theme, it’s time to take a look at your finances. Your party budget will determine exactly what you can and cannot achieve. If you’re not great with numbers, assign the event budget planning to someone in the finance or accounting department.
If you don’t have someone to delegate budget planning to, you’ll need to have a good idea about what the party will need. To give you a better idea, the following points are a good start to the basics you’ll need to include:
While accommodation isn’t always necessary, providing transport to and from the event usually is – especially if it’s located away from your place of work.
The next thing you want to focus on is setting a time and date. Make sure you give yourself and your guests plenty of time to prepare and clear their schedules. If you’re looking to hire an event venue to host your party, booking as far in advance as possible can be beneficial.
Try to think about your guests as well. Remember, that many people work long weeks and might not appreciate having to attend a work event in their free time. If possible, try to hold it on the last day of the working week. This lets people let their hair down and relax and recover on their days off.
By reserving a venue in advance, you’ll also have more options for availability. Consider holding your party a few weeks before or after seasonal holidays and public holidays.
The venue you choose will set the tone for the entire party. Ideally, you’ll want to find somewhere that is easily accessible for all of your guests. Choosing a hotel-based venue gives your attendees the opportunity to stay overnight, letting them enjoy a drink or two without worrying about driving.
Get in touch with the venue to find out about on-site catering and entertainment options. Many hotels have experienced party planners available to help plan everything from start to end.
If you have guests flying in from all over the country, choosing a party venue in a major city can be a real bonus. Aside from the venue, think about what people would like to do on the days following the event should they decide to stay. Typically, the venue will be the biggest outlay of your budget.
No party would be complete without food, drink and entertainment. It’s important to be careful when planning these, especially if using outside vendors. Costs can quickly spiral, eating into your precious budget before you even get started.
Many venues will have on-site catering and entertainment options available. if they don’t, they should at least have connections with local catering and entertainment companies. If you intend on serving alcohol, make sure that you find a licensed premises.
When developing your menu, the following questions can help.
Just like a good book, every party has a beginning, a middle and an end. This is where an event agenda comes into play. The agenda will give you a timeline to work with, letting you understand what goes where and when to wrap things up.
Basically, you’re creating a schedule to help guide you through the planning process. By breaking things down into set times, you know how much of your budget you need to allow for the venue, entertainment and staff.
As an example, if you pay a live band to perform for 4 hours and they are expected to stay for 6, things can get awkward. On the flip side, if they only need to perform for two, you are wasting money from your budget.
Once you have got your venue booked, the date and time set and a theme in place, it’s time to send out your invitations. The number of people you invite will largely depend on the size of the venue.
Most venues have a maximum capacity, so make sure you keep invites within the allowed limits. A few things to think about include:
The number of people you invite will also directly impact your catering and drinks budget. For a more formal business party or networking event, allowing attendees to bring their significant other is common. For staff parties, you’ll be focusing on celebrating as a team.
As soon as you have decided on who to invite, send out your invitations as soon as possible. In an ideal world, you would give at least eight weeks notice. Make sure you include an RSVP and follow up any invitations with a reminder 7 days before the party takes place.
By this point, you should have everything locked down and in place. But it’s not over just yet. A fortnight before the event takes place, you should contact the venue, caterers and entertainment to confirm that everything is as scheduled. This should then be followed up again 48 hours before the event.
While things will usually go without a hitch, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan as part of your party planning checklist. What will you do if the entertainment doesn’t arrive? What provisions have you got in place in case of bad weather? nobody likes to think about what could go wrong – to be prepared for a disaster is to be prepared for success.
When your party is over, it’s time to send out a thank you email. This is the perfect opportunity to ask your guests to upload any photos or videos they may have taken. You can include a hashtag for them to use on social media, making it easy to find everything online.
Make sure to ask them what they thought the highlight of the occasion was? This will give you a better idea of the overall success.
A party planning checklist helps you keep on top of the planning process, effortlessly guiding you from A to B. It makes it so much easier to work out your budget, pull together a theme and create a timeline. Without one, it’s easy to lose track of everything and have your party come crashing down around you.